Grimm's Household Tales with the
translated by Margaret Hunt
ONCE upon a time there was a man
who did nothing but gamble, and for that reason people never called him
anything but Gambling Hansel, and as he never ceased to gamble, he played
away his house and all that he had. Now the very day before his creditors
were to take his house from him, came the Lord and St. Peter, and asked
him to give them shelter for the night. Then Gambling Hansel said, "For
my part, you may stay the night, but I cannot give you a bed or anything
to eat." So the Lord said he was just to take them in, and they themselves
would buy something to eat, to which Gambling Hansel made no objection.
Thereupon St. Peter gave him three groschen, and said he was to go to
the baker's and fetch some bread. So Gambling Hansel went, but when he
reached the house where the other gambling vagabonds were gathered together,
they, although they had won all that he had, greeted him clamorously,
and said, "Hansel, do come in." "Oh," said he, "do
you want to win the three groschen too?" On this they would not let
him go. So he went in, and played away the three groschen also. Meanwhile
St. Peter and the Lord were waiting, and as he was so long in coming,
they set out to meet him. When Gambling Hansel came, however, he pretended
that the money had fallen into the gutter, and kept raking about in it
all the while to find it, but our Lord already knew that he had lost it
in play. St. Peter again gave him three groschen, and now he did not allow
himself to be led away once more, but fetched them the loaf. Our Lord
then inquired if he had no wine, and he said, "Alack, sir, the casks
are all empty!" But the Lord said he was to go down into the cellar,
for the best wine was still there. For a long time he would not believe
this, but at length he said, "Well, I will go down, but I know that
there is none there." When he turned the tap, however, lo and behold,
the best of wine ran out! So he took it to them, and the two passed the
night there. Early next day our Lord told Gambling Hansel that he might
beg three favours. The Lord expected that he would ask to go to Heaven;
but Gambling Hansel asked for a pack of cards with which he could win
everything, for dice with which he would win everything, and for a tree
whereon every kind of fruit would grow, and from which no one who had
climbed up, could descend until he bade him do so. The Lord gave him all
that he had asked, and departed with St. Peter.
And now Gambling Hansel at once set about gambling in real earnest, and before long he had gained half the world. Upon this St. Peter said to the Lord, "Lord, this thing must not go on, he will win, and thou lose, the whole world. We must send Death to him." When Death appeared, Gambling Hansel had just seated himself at the gaming-table, and Death said, "Hansel, come out a while." But Gambling Hansel said, "Just wait a little until the game is done, and in the meantime get up into that tree out there, and gather a little fruit that we may have something to munch on our way." Thereupon Death climbed up, but when he wanted to come down again, he could not, and Gambling Hansel left him up there for seven years, during which time no one died.
So St. Peter said to the Lord, "Lord, this thing must not go on. People no longer die; we must go ourselves." And they went themselves, and the Lord commanded Hansel to let Death come down. So Hansel went at once to Death and said to him, "Come down," and Death took him directly and put an end to him. They went away together and came to the next world, and then Gambling Hansel made straight for the door of Heaven, and knocked at it. "Who is there?" "Gambling Hansel." "Ah, we will have nothing to do with him! Begone!" So he went to the door of Purgatory, and knocked once more. "Who is there?" "Gambling Hansel." "Ah, there is quite enough weeping and wailing here without him. We do not want to gamble, just go away again." Then he went to the door of Hell, and there they let him in. There was, however, no one at home but old Lucifer and the crooked devils who had just been doing their evil work in the world. And no sooner was Hansel there than he sat down to gamble again. Lucifer, however, had nothing to lose, but his mis-shapen devils, and Gambling Hansel won them from him, as with his cards he could not fail to do. And now he was off again with his crooked devils, and they went to Hohenfuert and pulled up a hop-pole, and with it went to Heaven and began to thrust the pole against it, and Heaven began to crack. So again St. Peter said, "Lord, this thing cannot go on, we must let him in, or he will throw us down from Heaven." And they let him in. But Gambling Hansel instantly began to play again, and there was such a noise and confusion that there was no hearing what they themselves were saying. Therefore St. Peter once more said, "Lord, this cannot go on, we must throw him down, or he will make all Heaven rebellious." So they went to him at once, and threw him down, and his soul broke into fragments, and went into the gambling vagabonds who are living this very day.
Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm. Household Tales. Margaret Hunt, translator. London: George Bell, 1884, 1892. 2 volumes.
From Weitra in German Bohemia. We give a variant from the neighbourhood of Münster, in the patois in use there. Hans Lustig was a rich man, but had gambled away all that he had in card-playing and now had to suffer evil days. It came to pass that the Lord and St. Peter were on earth and went to his door and knocked, and said, "Good evening, Hans Lustig, may we spend the night with you?" "Why not?" said Hans Lustig, "If you will be content with what I have, but my wife and I have nothing but one bundle of straw; if you are willing to lie on that, you shall have it." "Why not?" said the Lord and Peter, so they sat down and talked of old times. St. Peter said, "Hans Lustig, we are thirsty, fetch us a jug of beer, here is some money." That was what Hans Lustig liked. When he came to the inn, he heard them playing cards and played with them once more, and in an instant his money was lost. "What shall I do now?" thought he, "Now I shall get no beer for those people who are waiting at home, and are so thirsty." He went home and said that he had had a fall and had broken his pitcher. Then St. Peter said, "For this time I will give you more money, but see that you get a pitcher full, for we are terribly thirsty." "How shall I be able to do that," thought he, "if they are still playing at cards?" He went away with his pitcher, stopped his ears so that he could not hear the playing, and came back safely to the house with the beer. When the Lord and St. Peter had drunk it, they felt hungry. "What am I to do?" said the woman, "I have no flour; I must bake a pan-cake of ashes." So they sat down together and ate something, but Hans Lustig always spoke of card-playing, and how delightful it was, and thus he talked until it was time to go to bed. The Lord and St. Peter lay upon a bundle of straw, and Hans Lustig and his wife by the fire. In the morning when they arose, and the Lord and St. Peter were about to go away, the Lord gave Hans Lustig three things; a pack of cards with which he would win everything when he played with them; dice with which he would win everything whenever he threw them; and a fiddle which when he began to play on it, would make every one unable to stir. Hans Lustig once more began to gamble merrily, and won everything. He bought back his house and yard, and always carried his cards and fiddle about with him. At last he became ill, and Death came, and said, "Hans Lustig, thou must die." "Oh," said he, "Good Death, but first gather me some fruit from the tree which stands in front of my door." When Death was in the tree, Hans Lustig began to play the fiddle, and Death was unable to stir from the tree. Then once more he played merrily with the cards and dice, but one of his relations died and he was forced to go to the funeral. When he was buried, Hans Lustig prayed a very devout Paternoster. "So!" said Death, "I have been on the watch to hear thee pray that; now, thou must go." Hans Lustig died, and knocked at the door of heaven. "Who is there?" "Hans Lustig." "Thou must go to hell." When he got to hell, he knocked. "Who is there?" "Hans Lustig." "What dost thou want here?" "To play at cards." "For what wouldst thou play, then?" "For souls." Hans Lustig played and won a hundred souls. He took them up on his back and knocked at the door of heaven. "V is there?" ' Hans Lustig with a hundred souls, and not one less." "No, you may just go away again." He went back to the door of hell and knocked. "Who is there?" "Hans Lustig who wants to play for souls again." He again won a hundred souls, and again went away with them to heaven, and knocked. "Who is there?" "Hans Lustig with two hundred souls, neither less nor more: just let me have one peep of heaven." So St. Peter opened the door of heaven, and then Hans Lustig threw his pack of cards in. "Oh do let me get my pack of cards back," said he, and he is sitting on his cards to this very day.
That this Bohemian and the Low German story are connected with the foregoing story of Brother Lustig is manifest; in the latter the name is even the same. The Youth who went out to learn how to shiver, No. 4, also belongs to this group. A Hessian story from the Schwalm district unites together all three. A poor soldier who has taken in some way farers, and shared his black bread with them, receives in return a purse which will never be empty, then a knapsack into which everything that he wishes inside it must go, and thirdly, eternal happiness. The soldier comes to a village where dancing is going on, the inn-keeper's pretty daughter refuses to dance with him, he goes away in a bad temper and meets the Devil, who promises the soldier to change the girl's heart to him so that she shall marry him, and for that the soldier is to give a written promise to be the Devil's property in ten years. The soldier consents, marries the girl, lives happily for a year or two, and has as much money as he wants. Then it occurs to him that the King has never given him a pension which he has earned, and he goes to demand an explanation. The guards will not let him in, but he always wishes them in his knapsack, and gives them a good beating. The King readily consents to let him live in his palace, and eat and drink with him, but secretly hopes to get rid of him, and persuades him to pass a night in a haunted castle in which, up to that time, every one has lost his life. And now the story passes into that of the Youth who went out to learn how to shiver. See notes to that story. He overcomes all the spirits by wishing them in his knapsack. Thus he frees the castle, and discovers a great treasure which he shares with the King. When the ten years are over, the Devil comes, the soldier gives him his child and obtains ten years more. When these are over the Devil comes again, but the soldier wishes him in his knapsack, and now he has him captive. He makes six peasants who were in a barn thresh him furiously; and, not content with that, goes to a smithy where the blacksmith's men have to heat the knapsack red-hot and hammer it out. The Devil is so bruised, that in order to be free, he is glad to promise never to come back again. In the meantime the soldier sees that his end is approaching, and orders his purse and knapsack to be laid in the coffin with him. When after his death he comes to the door of heaven, St. Peter will not allow him to enter. It is true that eternal happiness had been promised him, but he had pledged himself away to the Devil. The soldier goes to hell, but the Devil is terrified, and he too will not let him enter. He goes back to heaven and entreats St. Peter to open the door just wide enough to let him have one peep inside. Hereupon he throws his knapsack in and wishes himself inside it, and then he is in heaven. The hammering out the Devil which occurs here carries us on to another form of this wide-spread saga according to which a smith himself is the bearer of it. First there is a story from Tachau, in German Bohemia, in the dialect peculiar to that place.
Once on a time when the Lord Jesus and St. Peter were on earth, they came to a village where no one lived but very rich peasants. They went from house to house to ask for a lodging, and everywhere the door was shut in their faces. At last they came to a blacksmith's, who was a merry fellow and not particularly pious, and he invited them to come in. They ate and drank, and at day-break when they rose, the Lord told the Smith that he might ask for three things, but that he was not to forget his poor soul, and wish for nothing but temporal things, lest the Devil should some day fetch him. "Let the Lord look after that for me," said the Smith; "and as you are so good as to grant me three wishes, I wish in the first place that my cherry-tree out there in the garden may always go on bearing cherries, and that whoso ever climbs up it, may never be able to come down until I permit him. Next, I wish that whosoever sits down in my chair there, may never be able to get out of it until I am willing. Lastly, that no one who creeps into my stove shall be able to get out of it." The Lord performs what he has promised, but threatens the Smith with hell for being so frivolous, and goes away with St. Peter. The Smith lives merrily until at last the time is up and he has to die. Then the Devil comes to his room and tells him that he must go with him to hell. "Well, then, if it must be so," says the Smith, "I will go with you; but be so good as to go out and climb up my cherry-tree and gather some cherries, that we may have something to eat on our way." Without more ado the good Devil climbs up the tree and picks cherries, but cannot come down again. Then the Smith bursts out laughing, and lets the Devil struggle for a long time in the tree until he promises him that he will never take him away to hell if he will but let him come down from the tree. The Smith releases him from it, and the Devil goes home to hell, and tells what has happened to him. After a while another Devil comes to the Smith, and says that he is to go away with him immediately, and not to imagine that he can overreach him as he had overreached the first. "Ho ho!" says the Smith, "You need not be quite in such an hurry as that; just wait until I have made myself ready, and in the meantime seat yourself on that chair there." This Devil also allows himself to be persuaded, seats himself in the chair, and is not able to get out of it again, until he, like the first, promises to go back to hell alone. When the Devil returns to Lucifer, bringing no Smith with him, Lucifer is angry, scolds the Devil, and says, "Now, I will go myself and bring the Smith, and in the mean time, open the door of hell until I come with him." Lucifer goes to the Smith, and is about to seize him at once and carry him away. But the Smith says," Oh, Lord Lucifer, I should have come away at once with your devils if I had not been ashamed. Do not you yourself think it will be a disgrace to me if the people see that the Devil is fetching me? I will go to hell most willingly, but that no one may see you taking me, creep into my stove, and I will take it on my shoulders and carry you into hell; it will be a hard task for me, but no harm can happen to you inside it." Lucifer thinks what he says is true; and says to himself, "I can get out of' this stove when I like, it will not hold me fast." He creeps in, the Smith takes it on his back, and as he is going through the workshop, he takes the largest hammer with him and walks continually onwards on the road to hell, as Lucifer directs him from the stove. When they are not very far from hell, the Smith puts the stove down on a stone, takes the great hammer, and hammers away most terribly at Lucifer. He cries, "Murder! Murder!" and constantly tries to get out and cannot. But the Smith goes on beating him, and the louder Lucifer cries, the harder the Smith strikes. At length, when the Smith thinks that he has had enough, he opens the stove-door, and lets him out. Lucifer runs off to hell as fast as he can, and the Smith runs after him with the big hammer. When the devils hear Lucifer screaming, and see him running, they are terrified and run into hell, and Lucifer runs after them and calls to the devils to shut the door of hell quickly behind him, and stop the Smith coming in. In their fright they do not know what kind of bolt to put into the door, and one of them quickly thrusts in his long nose instead of a bolt. The Smith thinks, "As they will not let me into hell, I will go straight to heaven." He knocks at the door of heaven, and when St. Peter comes to the door and sees the good-for-nothing Smith outside it, he is just going to shut it again, but the Smith squeezes himself into the opening and begs St. Peter to let him have just one peep inside. St. Peter lets him look in a little, and then says he is to pack off at once. But when the Smith is once inside, he throws down his leather apron, sits down on it, and says, "Now I am sitting on my own property, and I should like to see any one turn me out." There he is sitting still; and, my dear friends, shall we not be astonished when we get there and see him?
Another story from Hesse runs as follows. The Smith has by his loose life become quite poor, and goes into the forest to hang himself on one of the trees; but a roan with a long beard, who has a book in his hand, meets him, and says, "Write thy name in this, and thou shalt have ten years of prosperity, after which thou wilt be mine." "Who art thou?" asks the Smith. "I am the Devil." "What canst thou do?" "I can make myself as tall as a fir and as small as a mouse." "Then let me see thee do it." The Devil exhibits himself as very large and very small, and the Smith inscribes his name in the book. From this time forth he has money in abundance. After a year or two the Devil comes, is satisfied with him, and presents him with a leather bag, which has this property, that whatsoever goes into it cannot get out again until the Smith himself takes it out. When ten years have expired, the Devil appeals to take his property into his own possession again. The Smith seems to be ready, and goes out with him, but demands that the Devil, as a proof that he is the right one, shall exhibit himself before him in a large shape and a small one. When he changes himself into a mouse, the Smith seizes him, puts him in the bag, and cudgels him so soundly that he is quite willing to tear the page with the Smith's name out of the great book, if the latter will but take him out of the bag again. Full of rage he goes back to hell, and the Smith is free, and lives happily as long as God permits. When he becomes ill and sees that his death is near, he orders two good long-pointed nails and a hammer to be laid in the coffin with him. When he arrives on high, he knocks at the door of heaven, bat St. Peter will not let him in because he had made that compact with the Devil. The Smith turns back, and goes to hell; but the Devil does not want him, because he is sure to do nothing but make an uproar. The Smith now becomes angry, and makes a great noise, and a small devil is curious and puts his nose a little out of the door. The Smith quickly seizes it, and with one of his nails, nails it to the door of hell. The little devil screeches like a lion's whelp, and a second comes and peeps, and the Smith seizes him by the ear, and takes the other nail, and nails him by the first devil. And now the two scream so terribly that the old Devil himself comes running thither, and is so enraged at the sight that he begins to cry with anger, and runs to God and entreats him to take the Smith to himself, for he is nailing up his devils by their noses and ears until he himself is no longer master in hell. In order to get rid of the Devil, God and St. Peter are forced to take the Smith into heaven, and there he is now in rest and peace.
A third story from Hanover also has its peculiarities. A horseman came to a Smith who had become so poor that he had no longer any iron or coals, and wanted to have his horse shod. The Smith said he would first borrow some iron and coals in the nearest village. "If that is all thou art in need of," said the horseman, "I will soon help thee, only thou must sign this page with thy blood." The Smith agreed to this without any difficulty and went into the room, scratched his finger, and signed it. When he came out again, the yard was filled with iron and coals. He shod the horse, and the horseman rode away again; but the Smith obtained large custom, and soon became a rich man again. One day after this a man came riding on an ass and had it shod. When that was done, the stranger said, "I have no money, but wish for three things and they shall be granted unto thee." So the Smith wished for a chair, in which whosoever sat down should remain sitting; for a pear-tree from which no one who had climbed up should be able to come down without he ordered him to do so; and a bag endowed with the same property. The man on the horse was the Devil, but the one on the ass was St. Peter. When the Devil came and showed the Smith the page which he had signed, and wanted to take him away as his property, the latter made him sit down on the chair, and horsewhipped him until he flew out of the window. He lured the second devil up the pear-tree, and the third into the bag, and drove them both away with blows. When the Smith saw that his death was drawing near, he ordered those near him to tie his leather apron round him. He knocked at the door of hell, but the devils would not have him. He came to the door of heaven, but St. Peter also refused to admit him; he allowed him, however, to look in. Then the Smith threw his leather apron into heaven, seated himself on it, and said that he was sitting on his own property from which no one could drive him.
A fourth presentment of the saga from Southern Germany
is contained in the following book, Sittlich und Seclen nützlich
Reise nach Bethlehem, von H. P. Attanasy von Dilling, (Sulzbach, 1700,
qto.), p. 153, communicated in the Curiosities of Vulpius,
A fifth story from the neighbourhood of Münster makes the story a local one and the Smith live at Bielefeld. The conclusion has only one or two special incidents, as for instance, that the Smith when turned away by the Devil also goes for the second time to heaven, and stands by the door to see how the blessed ones are admitted by St. Peter. A horseman comes with boots and spurs and wants to go straight in, but the apostle says to him, "Dost thou suppose that men force their way into the kingdom of heaven with boots and spurs; thou must wait?" Then a pious maiden appears, and to her St. Peter at once opens the door, and the Smith makes use of the opportunity, and throws in his leather apron after her. "Why art thou throwing thy dirty leathern apron into heaven?" says the apostle. "I will fetch it out again," says the Smith, "if it is too bad for you." But when he is in heaven he spreads it out behind the door and seats himself upon it, saying, "Now I am sitting on my own property, and will not stir from it." The apostle says, "After all he has done much good to the poor with his money, so he may stay and sit behind the door."
A sixth story from the neighbourhood of Paderborn like- wise speaks of the little Smith of Bielefeld. The Devil has in his presence to make himself as large as an elephant, and as small as a mouse, and the Smith catches him and thrusts him into his glove, out of which he is not able to come, and then he hammers him on the anvil. Afterwards the devils will not let the Smith into hell, and keep their door shut with iron bars. St. Peter also refuses to let him into heaven, so he hovers between heaven and hell like Gambling Hansel. In the seventh place follows the Saga of the Smith of Jüterbock, which is very well given in the German-French which still prevails in some places. (Leipz. edition of 1736, pp. 110-150. Nuremberg, 1772, pp. 80-95). The pious Smith of Jüterbock wore a black and white coat, and one night readily and kindly entertained a holy man, who, before his departure, permitted him to make three requests. In the first place, he begged that his favourite seat by the stove might be endowed with the power of holding fast every unbidden guest until he himself set him free; secondly, that his apple-tree in the garden should likewise hold fast those who should climb up it; thirdly, that no one should be able to get out of his coal-sack whom he himself did not release. Some time afterwards Death comes. He sits upon the chair, and in order to get up again is obliged to bestow ten years more life on the Smith. When this time of truce has expired, Death comes again and climbs the apple- tree. The Smith calls together his apprentices who beat Death unmercifully with iron bars. This time he, is only released on condition that he will let the Smith live for ever. Full of trouble and lame in every limb, Death slowly departs. On his way he meets the Devil and laments his sorrows to him. The Devil mocks him, and thinks he himself could very easily manage the Smith. The Smith, however, refuses the Devil a night's lodging; at least, he will not open the house-door, but the Devil may creep in through the keyhole. That is easy to the Devil, only the Smith has held the coal- sack in front of it, and ties up the sack as soon as the Devil is inside it, and then has it well beaten out on the anvil. When they have wearied themselves to their hearts' content with knocking and hammering, the poor belaboured Devil is set free, but has to find his way out by the same hole by which he crept in.
Eighthly, there is a similar saga of the Smith of Apolda (compare Falk's Grotesken, 1806, pp. 3-88), who lodged our Lord and St. Peter all night and received the gift of three wishes. In the first place he wished that the hand of any one who went to his bag of nails should remain sticking in the bag until it fell to pieces. Secondly, that whoso ever climbed into his apple-tree should be forced to sit there until the apple-tree mouldered away; thirdly, in the like manner, that whosoever sat down in the armchair should not be able to arise from it until the chair fell to pieces. One after another three evil spirits appear who want to carry off the Smith, all of whom he lures into the traps which he has set for them, so they are forced to give him up. At length, however, Death comes and forces him to go away with him, but he obtains the favour of having his hammer laid in the coffin with him. When he comes to the door of heaven, St. Peter will not open it, so the Smith knows what to do, and goes to hell, makes a key, and promises to be handy and useful with all kinds of work in heaven; to shoe St. George's horse, and do things of that kind, until at last he is admitted.
In the ninth place, there is a story from the Wetterau, communicated by Professor Wigand. The Smith tempts the Devil to climb a pear-tree, from which he is to bring down a couple of beautiful golden pears for him, but in which he is held fast. In order to be able to descend, he has to promise the Smith ten years more. When the Devil reappears, the Smith begs him just to fetch him a nail from his nail- box, that he may nail something firmly, but the Devil's hand sticks fast in the box, and he is not released from it until he has promised the Smith twenty years more. When this time, too, has gone by, and the Devil presents himself, the Smith makes him sit upon a seat from which he is not able to rise until he gives the Smith entire freedom. Hereupon the Devil vanishes, and takes the whole of the roof of the house with him.
Lastly, in the tenth place, there is a Bavarian saga of the Smith of Mitterbach, see Schmeller's Bavarian Dialects, 493-496, and Panzer's German Mythology, p. 94; this also has a cherry-tree from which no one can descend, a seat on which every one must remain sitting unless the Smith wills otherwise; and lastly, a bag out which no one can come without the Smith's leave. To this group also belong a story in Kuhn, No. 8; one in Colshorn, No. 89; in Pröhle's Kindermärchen, Nos. 15 and 16; in Zingerle, p. 43; a Netherlandish story in Wolf's Wodana, No. 2 (compare the notes, p. 54); and a Norwegian, No. 24, in Asbjörnsen. Kopitar relates, from his childish recollections of Krain, a saga of Sveti Korant. He had an enchanted tree, and whosoever climbed into it could not come down again, by means of which he tricked Death for a long time. When at length he died, the Devil would not admit him into hell, and held the door fast, hut the nails on the Devil's fingers projected, and Korant the Smith bent them back, and nailed them fast till the Devil screamed loudly for mercy. Then the Smith went to heaven, where St. Peter also would not allow him to enter. Korant, however, saw his mantle, which he had once given to a poor man, lying inside, and jumped upon it, crying, "I am on my own land and property." Compare Keller in the Introduction to Li romans des sept Sages, CLXXXIII. and following, and Hans von Bühel's, Diocletian, p. 54.
The printed popular book entitled, Das bis an den jüngsten Tag währende Elende (The History of Misery who will live to the Day of Judgment), or as it appears in the French translation, Histoire nouvelle et divertissement (divertissante?) du bon homme Misère (Troyes, chez Gamier), agrees for the most part with the story already given in the dialect of Hesse. On the other hand, however, many circumstances point to an Italian origin for this last story, or at all events, De la Riviere heard it related in Italy. The Apostles Peter and Paul arrive in very bad weather in a village, and stumble on a washerwoman who is thanking heaven because the rain is water, and not wine; they knock at the door of a rich man who haughtily drives them away, and are taken in by poor Misery. He only makes the one wish with respect to the pear-tree, which has just been plundered by a thief. The thief is caught, and so are other people besides who climb up out of curiosity to set the lamenting thief free. At length Death comes, and Misery begs him to lend him his scythe, that he may take one of the finest pears away with him; Death, like a good soldier, will not let his arms go out of his own hands, and himself undertakes the task. Misery does not set him free until he has promised to leave him in peace until the day of judgment, and this is why Misery still continues to live on for ever in the world. A fragment from the district of the Maine may be here quoted because it is conceived in the same spirit. The Devil comes to fetch away a certain man who has pledged himself to him, and whose time is up. At the same time, he brings with him a number of carts laden with old shoes. "What are they?" asks the man. "These shoes have been worn out by my spirits in thy service, but now thou art mine," replies the Devil. But the man desires to see the hand-writing in order to recognize it himself, the Devil comes nearer to show it, on which the man approaches it with his n snatches at it and swallows it, and thus he is freed. Lastly, we must remark that Coreb and Fabel in the Merry Devil of Edmonton (Tieck's altengl: Theater 2), are clearly the characters of our story.
Here is a very perfect instance of the wide circulation and living diversity of a saga. Of its antiquity there can be no doubt; and if we see, in the smith with his hammer, the god Thor, and in Death and the Devil, a clumsy monstrous giant, the whole gains a well- based antique Norse aspect. We find references to it among the Greeks also, where the crafty smith is the cunning Sisyphus in a story which has been preserved by old Pherekydes, and which must have been known to the singer of the Iliad. Zeus, angry with the aged Sisyphus, seizes the opportunity to fetter him with strong bands, and then no one can die. See Welker on Schwenk's Etymological Mythology, Hints, pp. 323, 324. Gruber's Mythological Dict. 3. 522. Compare also the Jewish Days of David, and Death, Helvicus, 1, No. 12. The story of the Poor Man and the Rich One, No. 87, is clearly related to it. (Compare the note). There a good and a bad man made the good and bad wishes. Here a middle-state is depicted. The smith is both good and bad, spiritual and worldly, for which reason he wears a black and white coat. He, in his poverty, gladly entertains the Lord, and stops his ears that he may not for the second time gamble away the money intended for a refreshing draught, and is good-hearted, but sometimes thoughtless. On this account, he is at length allowed to enter into heaven, or, in the more severe instance, placed between heaven and hell. This ending connects the story with the saga of the lansquenets who can find no place in heaven, which is told by Frei in the Gartengesellschaft, No. 44, and by H. Kirchhof, in Wendunmut (1. No. 108). The Devil will not have them because they bear the red cross on their standards, and St. Peter also will not admit them because they were bloodhounds, robbers of the poor, and blasphemers against God. The captain however reproaches St. Peter with his own treachery to the Lord, until the apostle becomes red with shame, and shows them a village called "Wait a while," between heaven and hell, where they sit and gamble and drink. With this story are connected many others of St. Peter and the lansquenets. Wolf's Zeitschrift für deutsche Mythologie, 2. 3, shows how Gambling Hansel belongs to the stormers of heaven. A seat from which no one who has sat down on it can arise again, is already known in the Greek Saga; Hephoestus bad such a one made for the witch: see Gruber's Mythological Dict. 2, 57, notes. The cunning which the Smith uses against the Devil in order to catch him while prevailing on him to take the form of a mouse, occurs also in the Story of the Spirit in the Bottle, No. 99, and in the French Bluebeard.